Shinya ‘Tobikan Judan’ Aoki was born on May 9th, 1983 in Japan. A former police officer, Aoki has trained in mixed martial arts since he was a young boy and he holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu as presented by Yuki Nakai, as well as a black belt in Judo. His nickname ‘Tobikan Judan’ means in Japanese, literally, “tenth degree black belt in jumping locks.”
Aoki made his professional fighting debut with the PRIDE organization at their Bushido 12 event where he submitted American MMA fighter Jason Black with a triangle choke in the first round. Aoki was next scheduled to battle lightweight Gilbert Melendez at Bushido the following year but the fight was canceled due to an elbow injury suffered by Melendez during a training session. Clay French replaced the injured fighter and Aoki proceeded to make quick work of him by utilizing the triangle choke once again in the first round. The injured Gilbert Melendez announced from the crowd while wearing a sling that he would fight Aoki at the PRIDE Shockwave 2006 event that coming New Year’s Eve; Aoki immediately accepted the challenge.
After Melendez was mysteriously pulled off of the card by PRIDE management, Aoki was slated to fight number one ranking lightweight Joachim Hansen instead. Making the move look easy, Aoki submitted Hansen with a gogoplata, marking the event as the first time that a gogoplata had been successively used to submit a fighter in PRIDE history.
Riding high on his much-hyped victory over Joachim Hansen, Aoki turned backed to Shooto in order to defend his middleweight title. His opponent was a man he had faced before and beaten in order to win the same title: Kikuchi. Although the fight ended with a close split decision, Aoki was able to successfully retain his title.
An announcement quickly followed from both Aoki’s manager and PRIDE management that he would be appearing as a headliner in PRIDE’s upcoming Lightweight Grand Prix tournament. Aoki fought Dutch MMA fighter Brian Lo-A-Njoe at PRIDE 34 in the meantime, winning in the first round with a submission due to an arm bar. Although Aoki confirmed his participation in the Grand Prix following that fight, the event was later cancelled for unknown reasons by PRIDE management.
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